Hello hello & welcome again…

I would like to take this opportunity to explore a concept that is new to me, one that I know very little about. I invite you to take this journey with me to learn about the Japanese concept of “Shibui” or “Shibusa” and why Shibui elements are so loved.

What is Shibui?

Shibui is a Japanese word — an adjective, Shibusa being the noun form — that refers to a particular aesthetic of simple, subtle, and unobtrusive beauty. It represents the type of beauty that doesn’t need announcement; its quality speaks for itself. The meaning of the word is as hard to understand as the word itself.

Applied to a wide variety of subjects, Shibusa has dexterity of medium. For example, it can refer to a person or a song, not just design, art, or fashion. It involves maturity, complexity, history, and patina that only time can bring, like a fine vintage wine although it does not need to be old or for that matter, expensive. As I understand it, it is the thing that relates to a sort of holding back in a painting or sculpture. A refined beauty that is not associated with popular fashions or current fads, but is timeless. It’s a basic quality that’s unaffected by time or social changes.

 

How do I know if something is Shibui?

Shibui pieces are often described as having a perfect balance of simplicity and complexity. How intriguing does that sound?

These objects have a history which they convey, a story they quietly tell. They speak of understated elegance, utility, rare beauty, and unobtrusive sophistication. They are often found in commonplace pieces that serve ordinary yet important functions, such as a pottery bowl or chest of drawers.

Shibui comes naturally, or it doesn’t come at all.

There are Seven Basic Elements of Shibusa: 

Simplicity
Implicity
Modesty
Naturalness
Everydayness
Imperfection
Silence

To that, I will add Earthy and Unsymmetrical, and here is why…

If a color scheme is to be Shibui, the large areas should be dark, rich, unobtrusive, but with a deft touch of brilliant color to add interest. Shibui colors range from pastels to dark, but are usually referred to as “muddy.” However, if something is Shibui as a whole, that does not necessarily need to apply.

If what you are looking for is an essence of controlled understatement, an attitude of modesty and humility, excellence through simplicity, then Shibui design may be what you are looking for.

Deepening meaning, adding quiet majesty to be shared — This is how Shibui graces our lives.